October 21, 2013

Dateline Moscow

Forty-five minutes into the drive to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for my return flight to Russia, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten something very important.

I turned to my dad, who was behind the wheel. “I don’t have my passport with me,” I said.

I had never forgotten my passport. Worse, the forgotten document was tucked into the side pocket of my backpack with my wallet.

It may have been easier to reschedule my flights for the next day, but I really had to get to Moscow on schedule. I had organized a Fourth of July party at the office for 5:00 the next afternoon, and I had a lot of work to accomplish ahead of a trip the following week to the Ukraine.

So my dad pushed the speed limit getting us back to the house, then quickly made the trip back to the airport. We arrived at exactly 10:30 a.m., the time my connecting flight was scheduled to leave for New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

I asked the Delta Air Lines representative at the check-in desk if I could still make my flight out of Dallas, but it was too late.

Delta rebooked me on the next flight to New York—but this time I would fly into La Guardia Airport. There I’d have to claim my bags, transfer to the Kennedy Airport, and recheck in for a flight on Aeroflot to Moscow—with only two hours to spare.

The challenge sounded daunting. I had never transferred between airports in New York, and on top of that, I was traveling with three overweight bags. I was again tempted to delay my departure by a day.

I decided to try to tackle the situation one step at a time. The first step was to board the flight from Dallas. I could manage that.

Once airborne, I contemplated the next step: collecting my luggage and finding a way to haul it from La Guardia to Kennedy. The flight attendant told me that transfer buses ran between the airports and recommended asking the gate agent for details upon arrival in New York.

At La Guardia the gate agent said the bus cost $13 but spending $30 for a taxi would provide a faster ride, because New York was mired in rush-hour traffic.

My three bags were the first to drop onto the carousel, and a porter wheeled them toward the taxi stand. But as soon as we exited the terminal, I saw that about 50 people were waiting in line for a taxi—I had to rethink my plan.

A taxi dispatcher pointed out the shuttle bus stop to my porter, just as the bus was pulling away. We ran toward it, and I tapped on the glass door. I was relieved when the driver stopped. The delay allowed another passenger to catch the bus to Kennedy, and he sat behind me.

As I again considered delaying my trip and spending the evening in New York, the stranger provided unexpected comfort as we started talking. It turned out that this was also his first time transferring between the airports. His plane was leaving at 7:10 p.m., as was mine—we were both flying on Aeroflot to Moscow. 

At Kennedy my new friend, whose name I learned was Andrei, helped me drag my bags to the Aeroflot desk, and I arrived at the departure gate only 15 minutes before the scheduled takeoff.

A vital key to success is pushing ahead. Successful people do not give up in the face of seemingly unsurmountable odds. In fact, when the going gets tough, they rise to the challenge and press on. This is a biblical principle. The apostle Paul wrote on this idea of perseverance nearly 2,000 years ago. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13, 14).

If things had gone according to my original flight schedule, I would have arrived in Moscow at 10:00 a.m. the next day. Instead, I arrived at 1:15 p.m., just three hours late. The July 4 party was a winner, and I finished my work before leaving for the Ukraine, all because I resolved to push ahead.

Do the same—and savor success!